Passed 70-413!

poolmanjimpoolmanjim MCSE, MCSA: 2016, MCSA: 2012KC, KS, USAPosts: 285Member ■■■□□□□□□□
The title sums of the entire topic behind this post. It was quite the adventure getting through this test and I will say, I was far from prepared to take on this monster when I started.

Took it in May and got a sad 573. Took it again yesterday and managed to squeeze out an 874! My highest score yet!

I HIGHLY discourage anyone looking into taking this from going down this road. In my opinion, Microsoft has almost abandoned this test and most of the content producers have abandoned this test. Unless you are already into studying this test I recommend either going for one of the Azure Tests (Azure is in people, its a good skill) or taking the 70-744 test for Securing Server 2016. I have talked to a few people about the 70-744 and it is actually being hailed as a good test so far.

Note: This gets long. I cover a lot with my post. Sorry for the length.

Some general advice if you are looking at MCSE Exams:
1. Relax the day before your test some. These tests are brutal and they will try your mind in ways you didn't think possible.
2. Take notes throughout the test. Gone are the days of a question you can read and understand in less than a minute. Every question is longer, it is harder, and there are more "gotchas" written into the questions and answers. I charted and took notes for every question which helped.
3. Don't hurry. If you're like me the MCSA tests didn't take you nearly the full amount of time, you always left with an hour+ on the clock. Unless you are down to the last 5-10 minutes, don't stress about time.
4. They had quite a few questions that once answered prevented my ability to go back to the previous answers. If you're into reviewing your questions, do it as you go along, not at the end.

Advice on Passing
Technet (and is your only hope. Dig deeper and deeper into Technnet and find the materials. This is a test over the harder, more complicated topics so not only do you need to know what is in the objectives, but you need to know surrounding technologies. Certificate Services, for example, is not specifically mentioned, know it at just above the 70-412 level because you need to know some stuff about how certificates work and how they are assigned to understand some of the topics. Also, labbing for this test was challenging. Some of the topics are massive topics that require a lot of work and were hard to lab. My best advice is to have a lab up for the most part and kind of poke around with the configurations to understand some of the details. Learn your Powershell. Its going to get hit hard with this one.

Note: My comments are based mostly off of what the training materials all echoed and where I seend to spend my time in the long run with some of the odd sections I wandered into. It doesn't reflect 100% what showed on the exam (NDA and all ).

1. Planning and Deploy a Server Infrastructure - This is the "super" topic from my experience. 50% of the content that you need to study is in this one topic. There is just so much to learn. Make sure you actually know how to turn ODX on and off and make sure you have memorized the step-by-step for Migrating some of the bigger roles and features (File Services, Print Services, Certificate Services, etc.). For the NFS part, make sure you go into depth on Unix integration with Windows.

Know the different System Center solutions and what they do. How do those integrate with SCVMM? Anyone who did the 70-744 will be at an advantage here.

Also, study up on DFS-N/DFS-R. Its going to show up.

2. Design and Implement Network Infrastructure Services - The biggest sections here are mostly review: DHCP Failover and IPAM. The training material all spent time on these two sections far more than I thought possible. Know the ins and outs of AD Integrated DNS.

3. Design and Implement Network Access Services - Freaking DirectAccess is back... Not only do you need to know it but you need to know how to migrate it from UAG. There are a few good topics out there on Technet for this, know them. It also is going to cover some of the advanced aspects of DA: multi-site, advanced setup, etc. Lab this one a lot. I didn't really fully get it until I labbed it 2-3 times trying to get it to work. The other big parts are RADIUS and NAP. Know how to setup multiserver RADIUS implementations with RADIUS Proxies and load balancing, etc. With NAP, know the different enforcement types, server placements, etc. Also, read up on how to integrate with Azure, its pretty simple but you'll want to know it.

For Web Application Proxy, there aren't many good tutorials on setting up IWA. Know that with IWA you need to understand Kerberos Constrained Delegation. Look up some stuff on UAG Constrained Delegation and how it works with Web Application Proxy. It actually was the most helpful and putting together that puzzle.

4. Design and Implement AD Logical - For the Azure piece mostly know how to get the Azure Powershell working. There are a couple of good MVA videos on Azure by Cory Hines, I recommend watching them. For the DirSync part read up on that and how to integrate with O365 some. Microsoft seems to be building up for the 365 stuff with this test.

Read through the technets on the different functional levels. Try to understand the changes that took place at the 2008, 2008 R2, 2012, and 2012 R2 levels. Lab a lot of that stuff (hint: Fine Grained Password Policies, DFS-N 2008 Mode, DFS-R of SYSVOL). Know when to use the ADMT versus the Rendom tool and the steps associated with each tool.

Permissions. Know how to do delegations of... everything. How do you delegate DHCP Authorizations? How do you delegate Domain Controller cloning right? GPO Delegations. Just look up all that stuff and lab what makes sense to lab.

5. Design and Implement a Active Directory Infrastructure (Physical) - Make sure you lab a lot and read a lot about sites and subnets. This is covered heavy and is honestly probably one of the most practical topics. Repadmin and the Powershell Replication stuff.

With RODCs spend time on troubleshooting RODC installs, what are the requirements for deploying a RODC, and know the schema changes to add to the Filtered Attribute Set and Confidential Attributes.

Know BranchCache modes and how to setup/administer it with Powerhsell.

1. Microsoft Exam Ref 70-413 (2nd Edition)
I don't think I'm going to surprise anyone when I say that this book wasn't all that helpful. Its good as an overview but it does not go anywhere in depth as it should.

2. Microsoft Official Academic Course Material 70-413 (1st Edition)
I normally highly recommend these books. I found them to be VERY helpful with the 70-411 and 70-412. In this case, I think because of the smaller pool of testers and the challenging material, I didn't not find this book nearly has helpful. It was certainly a deeper dive than the Exam Ref but it had a lot of errors and still didn't go deep enough.

3. Boson Practice Tests
Back in December I had gotten a sweet coupon for boson again so I picked up their practice test. I was a little disappointed, I found errors, confusing questions, and difficult (non test-like) questions answers. Additionally, a lot of their reference links were broken. I think of the practice tests I took, this was one of the better ones but it was still far some lacking (a theme you will continue to see). I was a bit irritated when I complained about one of their questions and they ignored my response with a "Microsoft tests are written that way. Its not going to change" snarky response. I understand "simulating" the testing environment but if you want me to learn the content, don't write more trick questions for me to have to understand!

4. Measure Up Practice Tests
My Microsoft Rep highly praised MeasureUp to me and if you buy the retake you can get the test next to free with it so I figured it was time to give MeasureUp another chance. The content was decent and the references were accurate, but the questions and content weren't hard enough and didn't touch all the points.

5. Transcender Practice Tests
I got these after I failed and, honestly, I wish I hadn't. Their software is outdated, for three days their site didn't work, and I have so far sent them 5 corrections for their test and most of them were glaring issues that weren't even close to right. DO NOT BUY TRANSCENDER FOR THE 70-413!

6. Pluralsight 70-413 (Tim Warner)
I don't know why Gregg Shields didn't do this one but the guy they got didn't do a very good job. It was like they put the exam ref to video. He skipped over sections, he didn't do nearly enough labs and he basically just pitched other videos as resources instead of trying to fill out his own content. Its like they had a time limit or something that didn't need to exit. I didn't find this one helpful.

7. Udemy - Pass The Windows Server 2012 Certification Exam 70-413 by Infinite Skills
Got this one on sale. The author did a good job of covering the content and showed good demos. I recommend this one, especially if there is a deal going on ( as of this post, there is ).

Other Resources (These are books I had gotten as reference material from days past. I used them a little)
1. Windows Server Inside and Out
2. Mastering Windows Server 2012 R2
2019 Goals: Security+
2020 Goals: 70-744, Azure
Completed: MCSA 2012 (01/2016), MCSE: Cloud Platform and Infrastructure (07/2017), MCSA 2017 (09/2017)
Future Goals: CISSP, CCENT


  • AndersonSmithAndersonSmith Posts: 471Member ■■■□□□□□□□
    Congratulations Poolmanjim! Very happy for you! Thanks for the tips and advice!
    All the best,

    "Everything that has a beginning has an end"
  • PseudonymPseudonym A+, Net+, Sec+, Linux+, ITIL v3, MCITP:EDST/EDA, CCNA R&S/Cyber Ops, MCSA:2008/2012, MCSE:CP&I Posts: 340Member ■■■■□□□□□□
    Wow! What a detailed and useful thread. This should be stickied.

    Nice one Jim. I was tempted to look at this one down the line, but you may have convinced me to go for azure instead. Did you feel like you learned much while preparing for this exam, and was it ultimately worth it?
    Certifications - A+, Net+, Sec+, Linux+, ITIL v3, MCITP:EDST/EDA, CCNA R&S/Cyber Ops, MCSA:2008/2012, MCSE:CP&I, RHCSA
    Working on - RHCE
  • poolmanjimpoolmanjim MCSE, MCSA: 2016, MCSA: 2012 KC, KS, USAPosts: 285Member ■■■□□□□□□□
    To be fair, I haven't taken the Azure tests so I honestly can't speak for them but they have come somewhat recommended.

    Good question, Pseudonym.

    I learned a lot, in honesty. I spent a lot of time and energy in the AD portions because that is 90% of my job. I didn't understand some of the complexities of sites and how to troubleshoot replication before so all of that was handy. I also didn't fully grasp Kerberos Constrained Delegation (and I'm not sure I really do still) so spending time on that was nice. Beyond those sections, I learned stuff the question I come back to is if it is relevant. The fact that NAP is on there still miffs me as it is completely depreciated and something I will very likely never encounter. The System Center stuff was nice. I've kind of become the backup System Center guy because just my rudimentary knowledge of it.

    The truth is these tests are a lot of what you put into them. If you try and learn, you'll find something new. If you don't care to improve yourself, you may be able to pass but it will hurt you in the long run.
    2019 Goals: Security+
    2020 Goals: 70-744, Azure
    Completed: MCSA 2012 (01/2016), MCSE: Cloud Platform and Infrastructure (07/2017), MCSA 2017 (09/2017)
    Future Goals: CISSP, CCENT
  • greg9891greg9891 Posts: 1,167Member ■■■■■■□□□□
    Poolmanjim Congrats! Excellent tips and advice. I thought Boston would have been a better practice exam for the 70-413.
    Certs Gained 2018: CCENT ,210-255 ( Cyber Security Operations)
    Upcoming: ICND2, CTT, 210-250 (Cyber Security Fundamentals)

    Isaiah 28:10 - For precept must be upon precept, precept upon precept; line upon line; here a little, and there a little.
  • poolmanjimpoolmanjim MCSE, MCSA: 2016, MCSA: 2012 KC, KS, USAPosts: 285Member ■■■□□□□□□□
    They were the best but it wasn't good.

    I just don't think as many people take the MCSE tests so there aren't as many people providing feedback about their experiences. Really when it comes down to it - that is what makes practice tests good or bad.
    2019 Goals: Security+
    2020 Goals: 70-744, Azure
    Completed: MCSA 2012 (01/2016), MCSE: Cloud Platform and Infrastructure (07/2017), MCSA 2017 (09/2017)
    Future Goals: CISSP, CCENT
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